Sunday, November 21, 2004
Okay, Enough About George W. Bush

Well, hey, nobody can be angry all the time (this blog takes the lion's share of my anger, I'm actually very peaceable and mellow in person), and this is theoretically still my personal blog, on which I can write about whatever I'm into at any given time.

And right now, the thing I'm into is cinematography. Specifically, how po' little me can produce something resembling decent cinematography when I have so little cash to work with. As it happens, the happy sum of cash I got from working the festival is just about right to cover the expense of building a basic light and camera kit while still leaving some for production-related expenses. And I'm having a really good time doing it.

I've worked out a system that will get me 1500W of light (plenty for DV) for roughly $300 -- compared to $1200 and up (waaaaay up) for a comparable professional light system. Okay, so I don't end up with a trunk full of barndoors and scrims and stuff, but the joy of low-budget indie DV is that we can come up with creative solutions. I can spend $50 on one of those groovy Lastolite collapsable reflectors, or I can go to the auto parts store and get a collapsable reflective windshield shade -- exactly the same thing, for all useful purposes -- for $10. Get some halogen work lights from the hardware store, a paper lantern-style lamp, and a few of those $5 scoop utility lights, and voilá: key, fill, and backlight. Throw in some gels (they make these really nice multipacks of 12" gels and diffusion now), blackfoil, dulling spray, a couple of gaffer clamps and $50 or $60 for a good used light stand, and there's nothing you can do with the $1200 kit that you can't do with the $300 kit. You might have to fiddle with it all a little more, but working around limitations is the name of the game. Limitations are your friend.

And I'm building a camera stabilizer. When it's done it'll be functionally identical to a Glidecam 4000 PRO, but it'll cost me about $85 compared to $400.

This is what the independent (read: real independent) film revolution is about: finding ways of doing things you theoretically can't do, sharing that knowledge with each other, and making the films we all want to make without having to go through the bullshit inherent to the film industry. One of the things that drew me to film in the first place was that it was a field in which I would be able to develop all aspects of my intelligence -- the range of skills necessary to make films on this level is staggering, but none of it is beyond reach. "Jack of all trades, master of none" isn't an insult in this medium, it's a blessing... knowing enough to do what you want to do (or learning those skills you don't have), but without becoming so up yourself that you forget that others can make valuable contributions is a state to which we aspire. It's not easy, it's not glamorous, it'll (probably) never make you rich, but it keeps my mind active and it keeps me aware of the world in which I move, constantly looking for new concepts and influences. It's a life's worth of good work.

There's also something that I want other people's opinions on. It seems to me that there's an interesting atmosphere brewing in the United States right now... my people, at least, are all hanging around, watching the way our country and the world is going, and we know that in all likelihood, things are going to be getting a lot worse. The bad days haven't ended, the tension hasn't abated, we're still full of anger and resentment. But at the same time... I mean, is it just me, or is there a feeling of giddy nihilism developing lately? A general tone of, "fuck this, fuck George W. Bush, fuck the world, if we're going down we're going to have a good time doing it"? Am I the only one feeling that? People have been amazingly chipper lately, talking about their lives with that sweet dark irony that my generation has claimed for its own. We don't know how we're going to get through whatever's coming, but we're pretty sure that we'll have some fun before it's all over.

Anybody else sensing that?
8:07 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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